Hawley defeats McCaskill in an increasingly red Missouri

In one of the nation’s most fiercely contested electoral battles, Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, a Republican, has defeated Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent. President Trump concluded his own push for Republican candidates with a rally for Hawley on Monday night.

Republicans had long coveted McCaskill’s seat, which she successfully defended in 2012 by defeating Rep. Todd Akin, who infamously mused about “legitimate rape.” But Missouri has increasingly turned Republican, voting for Trump by a wide margin in 2016. In that same election, Republican newcomer Eric Greitens was elected governor, replacing Democrat Jay Nixon, and Hawley was elected Missouri’s attorney general.

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Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley
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Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley
Missouri Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Hawley appears at a campaign rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Springfield, Missouri, U.S., September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
President Donald Trump listens as Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley speaks during a campaign rally at Columbia Regional Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 06: Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Hawley waits in line with his wife, Erin Hawley, to casts their votes on election day at The Crossings Church on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Missouri. Hawley, the current Missouri Attorney General, is hoping to unseat current Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Josh Hawley shares the stage with U.S. President Donald Trump (L) during a campaign rally at the Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley arrives at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  
U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges supporters upon arriving with Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Josh Hawley (L) for a campaign rally at the Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Missouri Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley waves at a campaign rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Springfield, Missouri, U.S., September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Missouri Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Hawley appears at a campaign rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Springfield, Missouri, U.S., September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Missouri Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley greets supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Springfield, Missouri, U.S., September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 06: Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Hawley arrives with his wife, Erin Hawley, to cast their votes on election day at The Crossings Church on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Missouri. Hawley, the current Missouri Attorney General, is hoping to unseat current Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
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It seemed, at first, that Greitens was the one with national promise, with some even speculating that the former Navy SEAL could be a presidential candidate. But earlier this year, he resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light, as well as questions about his campaign fundraising.

As a fellow Republican with national ambitions, Hawley had shown constituents that he was willing to investigate Greitens while not alienating the Republicans whose votes he would eventually need. A recent investigation by the Kansas City Star indicated that Hawley was not as aggressive into looking at Greitens’s several misdeeds as he could have been.

Hawley was also hounded by suspicions by that he was, as a Politico profile put it, a “lackadaisical candidate” who was squandering an opportunity to defeat a Democratic incumbent.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill
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Sen. Claire McCaskill
U.S. Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO) speaks on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (L) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) talk after a news conference at a hotel in Havana February 17, 2015. Three Democratic U.S. Senators visiting Havana on Tuesday envisioned potential victory for legislation to lift the trade embargo on Cuba by appealing to the free-market instincts of Republicans who otherwise oppose President Barack Obama. Since Obama announced on Dec. 17 a major policy shift on Cuba and the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations, Republican and Democratic senators have introduced two separate bills to lift travel restrictions for Americans going to Cuba and to repeal the 53-year-old embargo. The senators concluded their four-day visit to Cuba on Tuesday in which they met with Cuban people and officials. It was the first trip to Cuba for each of them. They expressed optimism about building bipartisan support, possibly overcoming Republican reticence at providing a victory for the Democratic president. Klobuchar is the lead sponsor of the embargo bill and a co-sponsor of the travel bill. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee questions a witness in Washington July 17, 2014. The chief executive of Delphi Automotive, the auto supplier that supplied the defective switch to General Motors Co that has been linked to at least 13 deaths, said on Thursday that the automaker was responsible for approving the faulty part design. So far, GM has attributed 13 deaths and 54 crashes to the specific defect, in which the ignition switch can slip from the "run" to the "accessory" position, causing the engine to stall, air bags to not deploy, and a loss of power brakes and power steering. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT DISASTER CRIME LAW POLITICS)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (bottom L) attends a meeting at the U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis, Missouri August 20, 2014. In attendance were (clockwise from top L) Richard Callahan, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo), Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Molly Moran, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo), and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo). Holder met with community members in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday and vowed a thorough civil rights probe into the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager that has set off 11 nights of racially charged unrest. REUTERS/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) speaks about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CRIME LAW)
U.S. Senate candidates for Missouri Todd Akin (R) and Senator Claire McCaskill debate in Columbia, Missouri, September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Sarah Conard (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
US President Barack Obama (2nd R) walks with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (R) as they depart from the White House in Washington, March 10, 2010. Obama is traveling to St. Louis to deliver remarks on health care. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Michelle Obama (L), wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, sits with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) prior to the start of a townhall-style presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to speak at a fundraising dinner for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in St. Louis, Missouri, March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) addresses a question during a "Health Care Listening Forum" at the UMKC campus in Kansas City, Missouri, August 24, 2009. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES HEALTH POLITICS)
Women U.S. Senators pose together for a television special in the Capitol in Washington January 16, 2007. From left are Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Dole (R-SC), Patty Murray (D-WA), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES)
Claire McCaskill (C), Democratic candidate for U.S. State Senate in Missouri, speaks during her acceptance speech after defeating Senator Jim Talent in St. Louis, Missouri, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Peter Newcomb (UNITED STATES)
Missouri Senate candidate Democrat Claire McCaskill (L) talks to campaign workers while her husband, Joseph Shepard (C), listens on election day in Kansas City, Missouri November 7, 2006. She is running an extremely tight race against incumbent Senator Jim Talent (R-MO). REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES)
Claire McCaskill, Democratic candidate for the U.S. State Senate in Missouri, uses the state's new touch screen voting machine as she votes in the U.S. midterm elections in Kirkwood, Missouri, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Peter Newcomb (UNITED STATES)
Missouri Senate candidate Democrat Claire McCaskill addresses her supporters during a "Victory Party" in downtown Kansas City, Missouri November 7, 2006. She is running an extremely tight race against incumbent Senator Jim Talent (R-MO). REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES)
Claire McCaskill (R), a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, works the register at a coffee shop during her campaign tour in St. Louis, Missouri November 4, 2006. REUTERS/Tim Parker (UNITED STATES)
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His victory may ultimately be a sign of McCaskill’s weakness. Over the summer, she was caught using a private plane on her RV tour of Missouri. And her vote against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh—who was accused of sexual misconduct and of providing inaccurate testimony to Congress—reminded voters that she was a Democrat in an increasingly red state.

McCaskill recently tried to draw a distinction between herself and “crazy Democrats,” as she put it on Fox News, referring to her liberal colleagues in the Senate. But to the increasingly conservative voters of Missouri, this was a distinction without a difference.
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